“Mockingbird” by Chuck Wendig

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"Mockingbird" by Chuck Wendig. Cover art by Joey Hifi.

Cover art by Joey Hifi.

 

“Mockingbird” by Chuck Wendig, 2012

Finished September 25, 2012

This is the sequel to Wendig’s enjoyable “Blackbirds.” We are back with Miriam Black, who is finding the quiet life with Louis to be grating. She is as acerbic and foul-mouthed as ever, ill-suited to ordinary existence. She has been avoiding practicing her skill – if she touches someone she sees their death – and it has become something of a craving.

For years Miriam was convinced that she could not change anyone’s fate. All her attempts to save people only helped bring about the circumstances of their inevitable death. But in the first book she learned that as long as death had a victim, things could change. In the case of Louis, this was not a difficult choice to make. But in this book, she discovers that things can get a whole lot more complicated.

After preventing a massacre at a grocery store, Miriam is overwhelmed by the need to hit the road again. Louis tracks her down, as he always does, and offers her the chance to read the fate of a woman he knows. She’s a teacher at a school for wayward girls, and once there Miriam soon finds herself faced with several future victims of a ritualistic mass murderer. Ever unable to do things the easy or polite way, she finds herself beaten, kidnapped, beaten, kidnapped again, beaten some more, and forced to deal with the morality of her choices. Along the way she discovers new facets to her abilities.

Miriam is hard to like. She is chronically unable to be pleasant or kind, even to people who are kind to her (especially poor Louis). She drinks a lot, smokes incessantly, and eats truly terrible food. Just reading about her lifestyle gives me a sour stomach. She is without a doubt her own worst enemy, which is saying something given how formidable her enemies can be. But you understand where she comes from and why she is the way she is. It is frustrating to watch her screw things up endlessly. But as unpleasant as she can be, she will fight to the death to save others. She is hard to like, but you gotta love her. And man she can just shake severe head trauma off like nobody’s business.

I love Chuck Wendig’s angry heroes, so I recommend anything by him. However, I found this book lacked a lot of the humour that he had in the first one, and the action felt repetitive. I mean, just how many times can Miriam break into that school before the guard at the gate gets fired? And the damage she can take and still keep fighting is beyond epic. It’s almost Bruce Campbell-like. She is less likable in this, probably because she is just so mean to sweet Louis, but I’d still recommend this. And if you read the first book, you will want to see where fate takes her.

“Blackbirds” by Chuck Wendig

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"Blackbirds" cover

Cover art by Joey HiFi

“Blackbirds” by Chuck Wendig, 2012

Finished July 2012

Miriam Black is a young woman with a very unpleasant “gift.” If she touches you, she sees how and when you will die. The worst part is, there’s nothing you, or her, or anyone else can do to prevent it. She has tried, and all her efforts only help the event occur exactly as she originally envisioned it. She developed this ability in high school, after a brutal beating and miscarriage, so as you can imagine, this girl has baggage.

Her life is unsettled and harsh. She is constantly moving, hitching rides to wherever and living however she can. In many instances this means finding someone she knows will soon die in order to rob their corpse. It’s a ghoulish life. She hates her ability, but exploring it is often a compulsion. When she shakes the hand of Louis, a gentle giant of a truck driver, she sees that he is soon to be tortured and murdered, and his last bewildered utterance is her name.

At first she runs, but everything leads her back to him, and she is desperate to know what role she plays in his death. She’s a compassionate woman, but also very hard to like. She has had to armour herself, and this takes the form of foul language, rudeness, sarcasm, and anger. She drinks too much and gets in a lot of fights, and even though she fights dirty, she doesn’t always come out on top. She is drawn to danger, which is why when she runs from Louis, she ends up with bad boy Ashley. He’s what gets her and Louis into the fatal mess that she foresaw.

Ashley has been following her. He seen how she is tied to several deaths, but none of them look like murders. He is intrigued, thinking she might be some sort of con-artist, like him. Unfortunately for all concerned, Ashley is also a thief, and the people he has stolen from most recently are merciless. When he blackmails Miriam into helping him out this starts them down the inexorable path to Louis’ death.

Wendig is a very entertaining writer, and there is a lot of humour in what could have been a very bleak book. Miriam has a darkly amusing approach to the world, and her wry observations set the tone. I don’t know how successful he is at writing a female character, because she has a lot of masculine qualities (is quality the right word for it? I don’t know), but she is entertaining nonetheless. And determined. Her perseverance is something to behold. And even though she isn’t likeable I ended up liking her very much. Recommended.